A New Life of Charles V
Drawing on vital new evidence, a top historian dramatically reinterprets the life and reign of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, ruler of the world’s first transatlantic empire
"Masterly."—William Anthony Hay, Wall Street Journal
"Seldom does one find a work of such profound scholarship delivered in such elegant and engaging prose. Drawing deftly on an astonishing volume of documentary evidence, Parker has produced a masterpiece: an epic, detailed and vivid life of this complex man and his impossibly large empire.”—Susannah Lipscomb, Financial Times
Selected as a book of the year (2020) by Simon Sebag Montefiore in Aspects of History magazine
The life of Emperor Charles V (1500–1558), ruler of Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and much of Italy and Central and South America, has long intrigued biographers. But the elusive nature of the man (despite an abundance of documentation), his relentless travel and the control of his own image, together with the complexity of governing the world’s first transatlantic empire, complicate the task.
Geoffrey Parker, one of the world’s leading historians of early modern Europe, has examined the surviving written sources in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, as well as visual and material evidence. He explores the crucial decisions that created and preserved this vast empire, analyzes Charles’s achievements within the context of both personal and structural factors, and scrutinizes the intimate details of the ruler's life for clues to his character and inclinations. The result is a unique biography that interrogates every dimension of Charles’s reign and views the world through the emperor’s own eyes.